Chicken Parm Meatballs

Unless I’m out to dinner, or unless there’s a birthday to celebrate, there’s not much room in my life right now for high-concept food. I love the idea of mashed potato ghosts for Halloween, and the artisanal Mallomars that came with the check at last weekend’s anniversary dinner was definitely good for a giggle. Even if it hadn’t been recorded in my dinner diary, the “ice cream cone” starter I had at the French Laundry in 1998 — a masterfully tiny homemade wafer cone filled with creme fraiche and topped with salmon tartare “sprinkles” — will stay with me for a long time. But you guys know us by now. You know that, for the most part, our default mode is simple, un-fussy meals that are fresh, can be put together fast, and don’t require any winking when served. (Any one getting flashbacks here of Charles Grodin and his “honest” dinner in The Heartbreak Kid?) But every now and then, an idea presents itself that I’d be crazy not to try. Last week Phoebe reminded me that I had been promising meatballs on the family dinner table and had somehow failed to deliver. At the same time, in the same breath, Abby reminded me that I had been promising Chicken Parm (page 148 in my book) on the family dinner table and had somehow failed to deliver. In an attempt to remedy my staggeringly deprived children as well as cut off any sibling tussling at the pass, I decided to please them both with a single high-concept, low-maintenance meatball meal. “It’s like Chicken Parm married Meatballs and had a baby,” I told them, before wondering why on earth I would ever open up such a weird concept with an 8- and 10-year-old. Well, either way, King Solomon would’ve been proud.

Chicken Parm Meatballs

This makes 12 large-ish meatballs. My best self would’ve let the meatballs freeze as shown here (after initial 15-minute bake), then frozen them for future Tumultuous Tuesday use, on which day, my best self would’ve transferred the frozen meatballs to the fridge in the morning, then heated them up in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes (before proceeding with broiling) upon her return later that night. While she was at it, my best self would’ve also ordered all the Halloween costumes and thrown away the sad, dried-out mums in the backyard that have been there since last fall and that perennially remind her of her worst self.

1 1/4 pounds ground chicken
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup Pecorino (or Parm)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 egg, whisked
zest of half a lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-ounce can storebought pizza sauce (such as Don Pepino’s)
about 4 ounces fresh mozzarella (a dozen thin slices; to pile on the cheese would be to cancel out the fact that you were virtuous enough to replace fatty beef with lean chicken)

Preheat oven to 400°F, setting rack to upper third part of oven. In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 11 ingredients. Shape into lacrosse-ball size balls (that would be somewhere between golf and tennis) and place a few inches from each other on a foil-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix one spoonful of your pizza sauce with olive oil. Brush this mixture on top of each meatball. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Heat remaining sauce in a small saucepan.

Serve meatballs with a dollop of sauce and a raw Tuscan kale salad that has been shredded and tossed with shallots, Pecornio, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

If you liked this recipe, I’m guessing you’ll also love the 80+ other recipes in Dinner: The Playbook, from whence those meatballs came.

Meanwhile, how much do I love this review of Dinner: A Love Story from Food52? My favorite quote: “Rosenstrach’s book and blog are something very rare in the genre of family dinner: they inspire neither homicidal nor suicidal impulses.”

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88 Comments

christine corbisello

I made a mistake reading and used a whole zest of lemon. Thats all i taste. But u used 1 1/2 lbs chicken.why would recipe even ave zest of lemon zest in a chicken parm recipe anyway

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Sandra

My daughter-in-law Heather recommended this recipe. I agree with her, the meatballs are wonderful!

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Kendra

Loved this post. And I could so go for some of these meatballs right now. I’m putting them in the running for the new apartment inaugural dinner that will happen if/when we finally unpack the kitchen.

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Leslie

I just pinned this to my Pinterest food board and discovered that 40 people have already done the same in the past hour. I guess we’re all having the same thing for dinner tonight!

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mommylisa

Oh – those look good. I made some turkey meatballs with leftover french bread and some basil the a few weekends ago – then made this AWESOME bacon marinara to put over them. There was so much marinara left it is going into my turkey lasagna this Friday night. :)

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Jenny

It should be noted that you can probably majorly up the delicious factor by adding a little chopped pork product to the meatball mix (pancetta, prosciutto) but if you’re going to do that, my feeling is that you might as well just make regular old fat-heavy beef/pork/veal meatballs.

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Brandy

So, I call my local butcher, tough guy from NYC, and he says grinding up a few chicken breasts for me is against the LAW. Seriously? Apparently yes… USDA says no way Jose… and they need a whole separate facility to do it in.

Sooo, you grinding at home? Or buying pre packed?

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Katrina

In IL we can just buy it ground. I bought a pre-packaged 1 pound of ground chicken for this recipe. That’s crazy!!!

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Jenny

Brandy – Very odd. Never heard of that. I bought my ground chicken at Whole Foods. It was already packaged — butcher did not grind it for me.

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tina

mmmm…ingenious idea! My daughter has been asking for chicken parm and I’ve been in the mood for meatballs and spaghetti. This is perfect!

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Emily

I made these tonight. They were perfect little mounds of deliciousness. They will be in my regular recipe repertoire.

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Esha

Hi Jenny,
My one-year-old is allergic to egg. Any substitute for the egg in your chicken parm meatball recipe? By the way, I love reading your blog!
Thanks,
Esha

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Merry

I grind my own chicken. If you cut it into 1 inch cubes (or thereabouts =) and freeze them for about two hours, the chicken becomes firm enough to grind in your food processor. I have the meatballs chilling in my fridge and I can’t wait till I can cook them up for dinner! They smell sooooo nummy <=o)

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Inthefastlane

Made them tonight. They hit the spot. And even the kid who cried that I was poisoning him when he saw one of these on his plate, tried it and liked it.

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Jenny

stumbled upon this recipe through pinterest and it just sounds absolutely amazing! Def. will be making this in the near future!

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Holly

These would probably freeze well I’m guessing? I’m always looking for things I can just defrost, heat up, and eat!

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CanadianJane

I made these tonight. Absolutely delicious. Will def make again. Thank you so much!

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Maureen

I made something similar this summer for a sliders party. Chicken parmesan sliders, with a mozzarella ball stuffed inside, coated in bread crumbs. The bread crumbs made for a toasty crust when grilled. Topped with marinara, parmesan and a leaf of basil and served on a ciabatta bun. They were a hit!

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Rachel

This seems like the perfect recipe for World Pasta Day! My oldest daughter, who is not a fan of beef, even agreed to try the chicken parmesan meatballs with her favorite pasta – penne. Thanks for helping us mix up our pasta night!

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Laurel

I made this today and thought this was a very good recipe. Next time, however, I will omit the fennel.

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Shelby

I just made these tonight. Do you happen to have the nutrition information for the recipe?
Thanks!

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Beth

Just wanted you to know that these are the BEST! We are having them for the 2nd time tonight.

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Mary

Made these last night- So good! had to use ground turkey because Wegmans was out of ground chicken, but they still tasted awesome. And so easy!

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Kathy Templeton

Thank-you for this recipe, my son has an aversion to beef and this will be a perfect substitute!

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Steph

I’m always looking for low-carb dishes and this seems awesome! I usually don’t like reading people’s commentary and jump straight to the ingredient list, but I really enjoy your writing style. Thanks!

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Becca

I made these last night & they were phenomenal!!! We used them in toasted grinders (subs) with marinara & melted mozzarella. Thank you so much for such a great recipe!

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kari

Looks delish! I came back to your original blog about this recipe…it seems others are copying it. So, just to let you know I pinned it directly from your site. Thanks for the recipe!!!

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Tina 'the book lady'

Hi – I’m planning on making these this week for my daycare kids. I think they will love it. It’s definitely healthier than a store bought pizza. Think we’ll skip the kale salad tho. =D

I’ll do a little share on my blog and link back to you when it’s posted. Thanks! Tina

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Loni

Thanks for the yummy recipe! I am making it now :) Do I set my pan on the third shelf from the top of the oven or bottom? I have 6 shelves, one puts it closer to the top and the other closer to the bottom :-/ Silly question I am sure.

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Julie

Made these for dinner tonight with a few modifications. Used ground turkey since that’s what I had on hand, left out the lemon zest since hubby refuses to eat anything with lemon in it, and used more parmesan to top them since I didn’t have any mozzarella. They were a BIG hit! Even the cranky two year old couldn’t resist. The leftovers will be lunch tomorrow and I have a feeling they’ll be even better then. Thanks for the great recipe!!! Found it on Pinterest, by the way.

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Carly

Hey! These look awesome! How would I freeze these? Before or have cooking? I’m a new cook so I have no idea!
Thanks!

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Kelli M. Johnson

I just made these this afternoon but used ground turkey and substituted the parsley with fresh oregano. THESES ARE AMAZING!

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Louise DeDeckere

Esha- I ran across the same problem a few weeks ago for Superbowl, but it was Spinach Balls: Ener G Egg Replacer. Found it at whole Foods, but lots of stores carry it in the baking isle.

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M

Just wanted to say – have now made these 3 times since you first posted, and they are perfect every time. Definitely one of our family favorites (along with your chili, chicken & orzo soup, butternut squash soup, stromboli…the list goes on and on).

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jen

These are the best meatballs I have ever had. They will be in family’s monthly dinner rotation. Even my picky 6 year old asked for seconds! Thank you and keep up the delicious work!!

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Devon

I’m going to try these tonight but just want to be sure the oven cook times are correct. I’m always extremely nervous about undercooked meat, so 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then broil for another 3 to 5 and that’s it?

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Pippa

Is it possible to prepare the meatballs and then freeze them for cooking at a later stage? Love the idea of having a few in the freezer for quick delicious dinners!

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Dena

These meatballs are wonderful. I am making them for the second time tonight. I was wondering if they freeze well. Thanks for sharing.

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Jana

These are awesome! I made these tonight for the fam and they were a hit with everyone. My kids even commented about how good they were – and they can be a hard sell. Clean plates all around! Thanks for the receipe!

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Rhondi

I made these and my family loved them! I used ground turkey (personal preference). They were moist, tender, and best of all, healthy. Thanks for the recipe!

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Jossie

I just made these for dinner, had it pinned a couple of weeks back, and they turned out great! Delicious, moist, and perfect paired with garlic-mashed potatoes.

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Kristal

I didn’t have any Mozzarella to put on top and they still came out amazing. This will made often in my home!

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Laura

After having these pinned for at least 6 months, I finally made them last week for my hubby and me. I detest fennel seeds, so I omited them completely. Rather than making a meatball, I made more of a hockey puck sized patty and fried them similar to a hamburger patty, then topped with homemade marinara and a little shredded mozzarella. Hubby loved them so much he asked when we were having them again!

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Nessky

I made this this weeks in 2 batches and both batches were gone! they were really so good. thanks for the recipe.

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Jess

Only good meatball I’ve ever made. Best I’ve ever had. Lemon zest is pure genius. Thank you! Thank you!

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Monique

These are so good! I’ve made them a handful of times now and always use ground turkey because I buy the pack at Costco. Also love the lemon zest!! Delish!! Thanks

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Lynna

These are wonderful…I’ve made them several times now and love the flavor combination.

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Angela

These were awesome. Made them tonight huge hit. Forgot the lemon zest but came out amazing. will be making again and again.

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Jenny

Just made this… It turned out good, but I would cut cut back the fennel seeds next time

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Rissa

These look REALLY good. I’ve had them pinned for a while and haven’t made them yet, too many yummy recipes to try. :) On the plan for this month.

I was going through my pins and thought I pinned this more than once, until I noticed that the other 2!! copied your photo and text but didn’t link back here, thought I’d give you a heads up in case you were not aware.

http://www.quickneasyrecipes.net/chicken-parm-meatballs/

http://amazingpinterestworld.blogspot.com/2012/10/chicken-parm-meatballs.html

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Jennifer P.

Made these for dinner last night and they were absolutely amazing! I already sent the link around to family and friends. Next time I make them I am going to try sautéeing the onions and garlic first but this recipe is so simple and delicious!

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Barbara F

Made these for supper tonight: YUM! They are definitely going into a regular rotation. I am hoping these will be good for freezer cooking, too. I did change the fennel for basil. We aren’t really fennel fans here. I made spaghetti squash on the side and it was awesome. Thanks for a great dinner.

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Jessica

These meatballs are fantastic! I’ve made these multiple times and they are one of my favorite dinners. Thanks for the great recipe!

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Ed fm NYC

Simply incredible. I used a Nija to grind the chicken and used large chicken thighs for my own ground chicken. I tasted one before putting on the sauce and cheese and couldnt help but eat the whole tray without the cheese and sauce. I will have to make them again soon to try them with the sauce :)

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Maggie

Love your book! My mom and I read it simultaneously and reminisced each night about my childhood dinners. Making chicken parm meatballs for my husband for valentine’s dinner tonight. Wish me luck!

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Anna

I have to say, these are now my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE meatball EVER!!!! I am so picky with turkey and chicken meatballs, bc most are either too bland or feel over herbed (and I do like herbs and good flavor!)…these are just PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT. Definitely going in my regular rotation, and I’m sharing your recipe with all my cooking friends – thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!!

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Jen Almond

Made this for dinner tonight and it was a HIT! Definitely will make over and over again. Next time I’ll cook the onions and garlic a bit before hand and going the fennel and definitely make a triple batch to freeze! Thanks!

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Trinity

Made these twice and LOVE! We use jarred marinara and serve them on whole wheat hoagie rolls. Perfect :)

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Kathie

My family loves these. Have to say I accidentally zested the entire lemon and I loved it!!

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Kristen

Have you tried freezing these? I am trying to fill my freezer for quick dinners. I thought this recipe sounded great. Thanks for any input.

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Lori

I guess I’m late to this party but I got here as soon as I could! Checked your books out of the library and need to purchase. Last night I made the chicken and artichokes with mustard cream sauce–YUM! and this recipe tonight–DOUBLE YUM! Both keepers! Thank you!

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Amanda

Have made these several times since finding the recipe on Pinterest. Since we are not fans of fennel and I don’t always have a lemon handy to zest, I leave those two things out. Sliced provolone or mozzeralla cheese both work well. Freezes wonderfully for another night. Have used ground chicken and ground turkey interchangeably without difference in taste. Family tested and approved by adults and kids alike.

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Nancy

I tried these and they are very good. A few suggestions for what we liked (not suggesting original recipe wasn’t good). For those wondering how/where to get ground chicken, I recommend grinding it yourself in your food processor. I used Costco chicken thighs, trimmed the excess fat and cut into chunks. I then ran it in batches through an ordinary Cuisinart food processor. I used chicken thighs because the flavor is good and all white meat could get dry, but I’ve also used a mix of thighs and breast before and chicken breast only which has turned out fine. I just think that this way, I know what was ground up in the meat and I’ve found it tastes a LOT better than the ground stuff from the regular grocery store. We do not have a whole foods so maybe theirs is fine. I also found the lemon zest to be a bit much even though each time I have cut back on the amount, it still produces a rather strong taste. Maybe ok for some but my husband and daughter (kindly) mentioned that it was too much for them. I would like to say thank you for this wonderful blog. I have tried many of your recipes and think they are great. I also love your writing style. My husband even reads the blog sometimes (and he is not a cook!)

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Cindy

Your write-up made me laugh, thank you ; ) The part about your best self would have gotten rid of the dried up mums in the backyard was so relatable! Will be adding this recipe to the menu this week.

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Kat

I just made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing!!!!! Thank you so much for the recipe!

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Ashley Farr

LOVE THIS!!!

So I accidentally forgot to add the parm cheese into the meat before I baked (I know, I know.) and I didn’t have egg, so I substituted quinoa in for the egg. I also did half hemp seed/half bread crumbs. DELICIOUS! Taste more like beef meatballs than chicken parm they way I made them. Thank you for the gist of the recipe

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Ashley Farr

LOVE THIS!!!

So I accidentally forgot to add the parm cheese into the meat before I baked (I know, I know.) and I didn’t have egg, so I substituted quinoa in for the egg. I also did half hemp seed/half bread crumbs. DELICIOUS! Taste more like beef meatballs than chicken parm they way I made them. Thank you for the gist of the recipe

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Kim

This was delicious, thank you! I made it for my elderly parents, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. My first time making spaghetti squash, and… YUM!

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